The newest new wave – Plasticzooms interview
Plasticzooms is about to finish their long EU tour that started back in February, so, in this email interview, that was arranged to promote their tour final at Mondocon in Budapest on the 22nd of April, I asked them about their European experiences, their history, music and side projects. It was mostly vocalist and band leader Sho Asakawa replying, but the rest of the guys, Tom Takanashi (guitar & synth), Jun Yokoe (bass & synth) and support drummer Shota Kanbayashi joined him for the last couple of questions.
Please introduce the band and tell us a bit about the group’s history.
Sho: It all started when I was a student of Tokyo Mode Gakuen (a famous college for fashion and design). At that time, early 2000s’, garage rock was a popular trend with bands such as The Strokes, and The Horrors. And I always wondered why Japanese bands didn’t link fashion and music. The punk and new wave bands I prefer created not only cool music, but also cool fashion. The reason why I started our band is because I knew, that I have to create such a band on my own as I couldn’t find one in Japan. This is how the history of Plasticzooms started.
And where did the name Plasticzooms came from?
Sho: It doesn’t have any particular meaning, but it is a neologism that I created myself. First of all, it’s more that I liked the way it sounds, the “shape” of this word. I feel a little bit the same regarding Sex Pistols. And, it’s like we focus a camera lens on changeable materials such as “PLASTIC” by “ZOOM”ing-in on them. So I chose this name in the sense that we can change our style to suit our creations on a moment-to-moment basis.
Your music mixes elements from many music styles… dark wave, post punk, synth pop and so on. how would you describe your music to someone who never heard any of your songs?
Sho: The reason why our music is so diverse is because I like many type of music, but simply put, Plasticzooms’ music is “the newest” new wave.
Back when you started out and released your first album, Charm in 2009, your music was very dark and experimental, but later you went for a much softer, cleaner sound, closer to synth pop. What was the reason for this change?
Sho: That’s a good question! Plasticzooms is always progressing. It’s our key feature. I do not disguise my feelings, at times I am sad, other times happy and feelings have a major impact on my music taste.
Your latest album is your most diverse work so far. What was your concept when you started to work on it?
Sho: That is should be simple and easy to understand. The concept was “Dance Music”. I realized the importance of these words in Berlin. I wanted the album to be marked by emotional heat.
What made you decide to move to Berlin for a while in 2015? And did this experience had any influence in your music and lyrics?
Sho: We wanted to challenge ourselves abroad, because Japan is very small country, and the rock music scene and the minds are small too. And of course, this experience had a great effect on our works.
And talking about lyrics… what are the main themes and inspirations for your lyrics?
Sho: It’s my life. I think being REAL is the most important thing. This is the proof of my existence.
Your latest music video featured Hideki Matsutake, a living legend of Japanese electronic music. How did you meet him?
Sho: Just after I walked on Michiko London‘s fashion show, I was introduced to Mr. Matsutake by the show staff. Similar people attract each other.
Sho, besides being in Plasticzooms, you also have a fashion brand, please tell us about that.
Sho: Plasticzooms’ goodies and artwork come all from the same inspiration, generating different items. However the items by my brand called Venus Eccentric come from a different inspiration.
Is any of you involved in any other music or art projects besides Plasticzooms?
Sho: Yes. I sometimes create music for fashion shows as well.
What is your opinion about the current state of Japanese underground music? Are there any new bands or scenes that you find interesting?
Sho: It’s good. You’ll find the Japanese underground music scene very interesting. And recently, I like the band called Burgh, they are amazing.
By now you played many shows in Europe. Do you see any significant difference between the European and Japanese audiences?
Sho: European fans express their feelings more directly. So we get more excited.
Jun : Yes, the European audience’s reaction is very honest. So, I guess European audiences know how to enjoy a concert more than Japanese.
Tom：I think that there are more people who free their minds than in Japan.
Kanba: I saw many people that danced and shouted from the stage during this tour and it makes me very excited!
If there is someone who is still uncertain if they should see you live, how would you convince them that they should definitely check out your concert?
Sho: We provide entertainment for you. Experience it yourself. And later I think that you will say that “the experience of that day still haunts my memory!”
Jun : You can experience our sound better at our concert. If you wanna dance, shout and get excited, you should not miss it!!
Tom：I’ll say to them there will be something you have not seen.
Kanba : The live performances of Plasticzooms are very ingenious and full of entertainment. So, you should come!
And finally, any message for the fans in Hungary?
Sho: I wanted to go Hungary for a long time. And I’m moved, because we can play there finally. We are all looking forward to seeing you. Thank you!
Jun: Thank you for reading this article. Let’s meet at Mondocon, and share the nice time!
Tom： I’m looking forward to visit Hungary for the first time. Let’s have fun at the venue by all means!
Kanba : I’m looking forward to seeing you in Hungary. Enjoy!
Thanks to HIGHFeeL for making this interview possible!